When I first read Massively OP Kickstarter donor MagmaFist’s Daily Grind submission, I suspected him to be a big fan of Gravity/Force Fields Controllers in a past life. He asks,
What kind of physics-based gameplay should be or do you expect in a next-gen superhero MMO?
City of Heroes’ infamous combo leaped to mind because as annoying as some people found those powersets, their physics and animations made the game feel real. When you’re throwing around cars and watching them bounce off walls, or using force powers to propel thugs across the road, you master and immerse yourself in the space as much as the mechanics. Superhero games in particular take advantage of that, and I’d like to imagine that next-gen games can do so much better.
But in fact, I’d sold MagmaFist short because he’s pretty much played all the superhero MMOs and found their physics ambitions lacking. In a followup email, he explained in greater detail:
I was excited by the proposition and CoH’s decision to support the PCI hardware Physx card. As I have found out over the years, my imagination exceeds the implementation. The end result was basically more particle effects floating around than if you did not have the feature turned on or had the hardware to support it.
Champions Online indicated it would be implementing some physics out in the zones, not just an instance. You’d see that a character lifting an object, depending on its size and weight in conjunction with level of strength of the hero, conveyed more “weight.” It wound up being just another feature that couldn’t live up to this player’s expectations.
I tried DC Universe Online when it first came out, and there were definitely more objects to throw. Unfortunately, my rose-colored glasses were stuck in the tab-targeting, multiple hotbars made for a PC keyboard scheme way of doing things.
Finally, there was Marvel Heroes, where I could break glass along with cars along with tables, chairs, planters and tables. But I can’t do anything to the walls, I can’t create an avalanche in a cave, and there just seems to be a reactive component missing that was promised so much in tech demos.
I believe a good implementation of physics will elevate a superhero game by increasing that visceral feel of power you receive playing your favorite MMO. For me, it was City of Heroes through the use of good sound effects, great particle effects, taking on lots of enemies, and a good amount of screen shake. How can you improve on that? The right answer is physics.
It sounds like City of Titans may have some of these ideas planned, and I hope they can deliver, but overall nothing has reached the level of the tech demos I was subjected to over the years promising a new level of gaming.
I wish a superhero MMO had physics like those in games like Battlefront, Call of Duty, and Far Cry — is it just too much for a superhero to get that level of treatment?
So what do you think? What kind of physics-based gameplay do you expect in a next-gen superhero MMO?